BBC – Travel – Cambodia’s hidden jungle temple

Beng Melea offers a budget version of visiting the Angkor ruins, with the added bonus of still looking like a ruin.

Beng Mealea, an eerie jungle temple that invokes the earlier, less-discovered days of Angkor Wat, gives plenty of hope to the Indiana Jones in all of us.

Source: BBC – Travel – Cambodia’s hidden jungle temple

Borobudur authority mulls plan to restrict visitors

Authorities are considering restricting the number of visitors to Borobudur to 15 at any one time to limit structural damage to the ancient monument.

Borobudur. Source: Indonesia Investments 20160831
Borobudur. Source: Indonesia Investments 20160831

Govt to Only Allow 15 Visitors at a Time at Borobudur Temple
Jakarta Globe, 30 August 2016

Authorities Indonesia to Limit Visitor Numbers at Borobudur Temple
Indonesia Investments, 31 August 2016

The government plans to limit the number of visitors who will be allowed access to Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Central Java, to only 15 at any given time, an official said on Tuesday (30/08).

State-run Antara news agency quoted Nadjamuddin Ramly, the director of heritage and cultural diplomacy at the Ministry of Education and Culture, as saying that there are concerns about the preservation of the ninth-century Mahayana Buddhist temple. He said the Unesco World Heritage Site often receives hundreds of visitors, who all enter the at the same time, which may affect the building’s structural integrity.

He said the government will issue a regulation that limits the number of people allowed to enter at any given time. The figure of 15 is based on research data related to the structural capacity of the building.

Full stories here and here.

Hotels in Bagan’s protected zone in limbo

The Myanmar government is deciding between granting special exemptions or demolishing some 25 hotels that have been illegally built in the protected area of Bagan.

Hoteliers Left in Limbo in Bagan
The Irrawady, 22 August 2016

The government remains undecided on whether to grant official approval to unsanctioned hotels that were built in Bagan’s famed archaeological zone without the permission of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture.

Existing laws prohibit commercial buildings in Bagan’s archaeological zone but for 25 hotels that have already been built, the ministry is debating whether to allow or demolish them, said Aye Ko Ko, director of the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library, at a press conference on the ministry’s 100-day plan in Naypyidaw on Friday.

“According to the law, hotels, motels and guesthouses can’t be built in archaeological zones unless the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture approves. This approval cannot be authorized by local authorities or our department,” said Aye Ko Ko.

Full story here.

Angkor admission prices to rise next year

Visitors to Angkor Wat will expect to pay about twice as much from next year as a new pricing plan comes into effect in February.

Angkor Wat entrance fee to double
The Telegraph, 05 August 2016

Angkor temple entrance fee to almost double in February
AP, via KSL.com, 05 August 2016

Angkor to hike entrance fees
TTR Weekly, 08 August 2016

Angkor Wat ticket price hike could hurt visitor numbers: experts
Phnom Penh Post, 08 August 2016

Angkor Wat Ticket Prices Set to Rise After Government Takeover
Cambodia Daily, 08 August 2016

Banteay Chhmar and sustainable community-based tourism

A feature on sustainable community-based tourism through the example of Banteay Chhmar.

Banteay Chhmar
Banteay Chhmar

Banteay Chhmar: How Cambodia’s ancient cities are boosting tourism and community development
IBT Times, 24 June 2016

In 2008, Global Heritage Fund began exploratory conservation work at the site and, in partnership with the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and the APSARA National Authority established a wide-ranging conservation, master plan and community development project at the site.

Part of this has involved the development of the Community-Based Tourism (CBT) to help local people living and working around Banteay Chhmar both acquire a deep understanding of the site and benefit from it economically and socially. Mobilising local people around the protection of endangered monuments is fundamental to GHF’s work and is critical for creating projects, which dually serve social and heritage preservation needs.

There will always be arguments over the impact that tourism has on historic sites and local people with the footfall in places like Angkor resulting in calls for tourist caps, but the CBT approach is entirely focused on sustainability. While private businesses benefiting from tourist hotspots retain their profits, the CBT income from visitors is for the benefit of the villagers and, to date, has seen funds reinvested in initiatives such as waste collection, a children’s library and the opening of a local restaurant.

Full story here.

Hotel developments in Bagan on hold

The Myanmar Department of Archaeology reports that a number of hotel developments around and near the Bagan temples are on hold while the site is being prepare for Unesco World Heritage nomination. This is welcome news especially since zoning requirements in the temple areas have not been enforced until recently.

Bagan hotels on hold
TTR Weekly 17 June 2016

Over 40 hotel projects in the Bagan Ancient Cultural Region have been delayed since 2013, while their construction permits are reviewed.

Global New Light of Myanmar quoted Department of Archaeology director, U Zaw Zaw Htun, saying the department was reviewing the situation.

“The answer will only be realised once we’ve completed our negotiations with UNESCO for the recognition of Bagan as a World Heritage site… this impacts on the hotels’ future. For now, we’re still discussing possibilities.”

Full story here.

Road in front of Angkor Wat closed to traffic

The area in front of the entrance to Angkor Wat is now off limits to vehicular traffic in a bid to ease congestion.

Hun Sen Bans Traffic on Angkor Wat Road
Cambodia Daily, 4 May 2016

No cars allowed near Angkor Wat
AP, via Today, 3 May 2016

Cars, vans, and other vehicular traffic will be barred from traveling along the stretch of road directly facing Angkor Wat, the country’s most iconic tourist attraction, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on Facebook yesterday.

“From now on, only pedestrians and cyclists will be allowed to enter the road in front of Angkor Wat temple. No any other vehicles will be allowed to pass through the street, but firetrucks and ambulances will be allowed to enter during an emergency,” Mr. Hun Sen wrote.

Full story here and here.

Bagan ‘limbo’ hotels given 10 years to move

A large problem of the management of the Bagan temple heritage landscape is the number of hotels situated very near the temples. Now, they are given 10 years to move to a special zone and away from the temples.

Special zone for hotels in Bagan. Source: Myanmar Times 20160318
Special zone for hotels in Bagan. Source: Myanmar Times 20160318

Bagan ‘limbo’ hotels given 10-year edict
Myanmar Times, 18 March 2016

In a major blow to Bagan’s “limbo” hotels, the city has decided that within 10 years all hotels will have to move to a special zone.

The decision will particularly hit the owners of 42 hotels, inns and guesthouses, some of them still under construction, that have been anxiously awaiting a decision on their status.

All Bagan hotels will have to relocate to a specially designated hotel zone 4, located beside the Bagan-Kyaukpadaung road, after 10 years, said Sai Kyaw Ohn, deputy minister of hotels and tourism and a member of the Heritage Management Committee.

“That’s enough time for them to recover their investment, though some may lose out. But we can’t allow hotels in the Bagan heritage zone,” he said, adding that the decision had been accepted by the current government.

Full story here.

Bagan residents seek greater share of ticket sales for preservation

Bagan residents are seeking a greater portion of ticket revenues to help with the preservation of the monuments – the current rate is an appalling 2%, which is up from the previous rate of 0.

Conservation of mural paintings in Bagan. Source: Myanmar Times 20160315
Conservation of mural paintings in Bagan. Source: Myanmar Times 20160315

Bagan locals seek bigger slice of entrance fee for pagoda preservation
Myanmar Times, 15 March 2016

Bagan needs more cash
TTR Weekly, 17 March 2016

Bagan residents want more. Outraged at the disclosure that only 2 percent of the takings from the entrance fees paid by tourists goes toward the upkeep of the ancient religious buildings that constitute one of the country’s premier tourist sites, they are taking up the matter with the incoming government.

The Bagan Regional Development Association, a group organised by local tourist guides, and residents also object to the secrecy that they say surrounds the collection operations of the Myanmar Tourism Federation.

Association chair U Khin Maung Nu told a press conference in Bagan on March 13 that they want to see “at least half” the takings from the Bagan tourism zone to go to the maintenance of the pagodas and regional development.

Full story here and here.